Barbels are group of small carp-like freshwater fish, almost all of the genus Barbus. They are usually found in gravel and rocky-bottomed slow-flowing waters with high dissolved oxygen content. A typical adult barbel will range from 25 to 100 cm in length and weigh anywhere between 200 g and 10 kg, although weights of 200 g are more common. Babies weigh 100–150 g.
Fish described as barbels by English-speaking people may not be known as barbels in their native country, although the root of the word may be similar. For instance, the Mediterranean barbel (Barbus meridionalis) is known as barbeau méridional or barbeau truité in France, but also as drogan, durgan, tourgan, turquan and truitat.
Barbus barbus, the barbel native to Great Britain, is known simply as the barbel and is a popular sport fish. Subspecies of B. barbus are recognised; namely B. barbus bocagei, B. barbus sclateri, B. barbus thessalus and B. barbus plebejus.
Other barbel in Europe include Barbus sclateri – sometimes known as the European barbel; the Italian barbel (Barbus tyberinus); the Albanian barbel (Barbus albanicus); and the Iberian barbel, which is found in Spain and Portugal and is eaten by many European duck species.
The Crimean barbel (Barbus tauricus) is found in the Salgir River in the Crimean peninsula. A sub-species, the Kuban barbel (Barbus tauricus kubanicus) is found in the upper and middle Kuban River in Russia.
The Bulatmai barbel (Barbus capito carpito, formerly Cyprinus capito) is found in the Kura river in Trans-caucasia.
The Terek barbel (Barbus ciscaucasicus) is found in the Kuma River, Russia.
The Turkestan barbel (Barbus conocephalus) is found in the Zeravshan river.
The Gokcha barbel (Barbus goktschaicus) is found in the Lake Sevan in Armenia.
The Kura barbel (Barbus lacerta formerly Mtkvari barbel) is found in Syria.
The Himri barbel (Barbus luteus) is native to Mesopotamian rivers.
The Amur barbel or Barbel steed (Hemibarbus labeo) is found in the Amur basin and elsewhere in east and south-east Asia, including south-east Siberia.
Barbus callensis is found in Tunisia.
Occasionally non-cyprinid fish are called barbels such as Austroglanis gilli, or Schilbe mystus, both are catfish. Some species of the genus Sinocyclocheilus a cave dwelling fish found in China have made use of the term barbel in their English common name.
The barbel is mentioned in Nostradamus Les Prophéties, century VII, 24 :
He who was buried will come out of the tomb,
he will make the strong one out of the bridge to be bound with chains.
Poisoned with the roe of a barbel,
the great one from Lorraine by the Marquis du Pont.
Fishing for barbel
Barbel, although often found in still waters, are predominantly a river-dwelling fish and are sought by many anglers. They may not be the most elusive fish in the river; in the right conditions they are fairly easy to catch. They are hardy fish who will fight right until the landing net is slipped under them. Despite this hardy nature in the water they do not cope well out of the water, and must be returned safely and quickly. It is good practice to support the fish in the water until it is fully recovered and swims away on its own.
Some of the best barbel fishing venues are along the Loddon near Reading. The Severn at Bewdley is a particular hotspot where there are different day ticket and club stretches on both sides of the bank. The current record on the river Severn is 16 lb 11 oz, taken by Kevin Gittins, in November 2014.
The UK Barbel record (21 lb 2oz - 9.58 kg) was landed by Colin Smithson from an undisclosed Sussex river in 2019
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Barbel .|
- Genus Barbus All barbels are of the genus Barbus but not all Barbus species are barbels.
- Barbus barbus The barbel native to England and parts of Europe.
- Barbel (anatomy) The whiskerlike structures that give the barbel its name.
- Bishop, Frederick (1852). "Salt and Freshwater Fish". The Illustrated London Cookery Book. London. p. 158.
- "barbel". thefreedictionary.com.
- "Common Names of Barbus meridionalis". FishBase.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2011-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Record Breaking Barbel".